Age discrimination in the workplace is an increasingly serious issue for businesses and employees as older generations continue to maintain their professional careers longer than their predecessors, said Patrick Mitchell, Management Liability Product Head at Hiscox USA. Discrimination of any kind brings serious reputational and financial risks to any business and can negatively impact a worker's career trajectory. As such, businesses must take the necessary steps to prevent, detect and mitigate any instances of age discrimination in the workplace in order to fully protect their organization and employees.
Gender Plays a Role in Workplace Ageism
While prior Hiscox data found that women are more likely to experience harassment in the workplace, the 2019 Hiscox Ageism in the Workplace StudyTM found that men were more likely to feel that their advancing age adversely impacted their careers. Forty-three percent of men felt that their age has been a barrier to finding a new job since turning 40 years old, compared to less than one-third (30%) of women. More than one-third (39%) of men reported that age frustrated their career advancement since turning 40, compared to 24% of women.
Most Remain Silent
Although over one in five respondents shared that they faced age discrimination in the workplace themselves, only 40% filed a charge or complaint. Their reasons for staying silent included the fear of a report creating a hostile work environment (54%) and a lack of knowledge on how to initiate a complaint (24%).
Witnesses, too, were more likely to stay quiet. More than half (51%) of workers who witnessed age discrimination against another employee did not report it, and 62% pointed to a fear of retaliation by their employers as the reason for not speaking up.
The Cost of Ageism in the Workplace
Often subject to common stereotypes regarding older workers, 80% of respondents who experienced age discrimination reported that it had impacted their career trajectory.
In addition to ageism impacting employee productivity, organizations face the loss of talent and institutional knowledge when older employees leave a company. In fact, 43% of respondents reported that they had left a company due to experiencing or witnessing age discrimination.
How to Combat Ageism in the Workplace
Businesses should take the following steps to prevent, detect and mitigate age discrimination in the workplace
Prevent age discrimination by providing workforce training.
Detect age discrimination by watching for behaviors that indicate older workers are being harassed, excluded from projects and underrepresented in new hiring and promotions.
Mitigate the risks and exposure associated with age discrimination by responding to claims immediately and thoroughly.
Hiscox USA provides a variety of specialty risk solutions including a broad spectrum of professional errors & omissions, general liability, cyber and data security, media liability, management liability, crime, kidnap & ransom, terrorism and commercial property insurance products.